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Lack of in-home piped water linked to Invasive Pneumococcal Disease Study published in Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal


ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A new study published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, "Invasive Pneumococcal Disease in Alaskan Children: Impact of the Seven-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine and the Role of Water Supply," confirms the effectiveness of the pneumococcal vaccine given routinely to infants in Alaska and finds the remaining invasive pneumococcal disease (caused by strains not contained in the vaccine) may be linked to a lack of in-home running water.

Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) is caused by bacteria ("pneumococci") which are commonly found in the throat and spread from person to person IPD can cause pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis, all serious infections and all among the most common vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. Young children and the elderly are particularly susceptible.

In Alaska, where one third of the population lives in small rural communities, many of them not connected to piped water systems, IPD rates are among the highest in the world. Evaluations have identified a significant disparity in rates between Alaska Native children and non-Native children. For example, the rate of culture-positive pneumonia in Alaska Native children younger than two was 10 times higher than that of non-Native children in the same age group.

The authors of the study conclude that high rates of IPD in Alaska are associated with lack of in-home piped water, an effect most likely mediated through reduced water use, especially handwashing. While development of vaccines with broader coverage will undoubtedly reduce IPD burden, addressing infrastructure disparities such as in-home water supply may be a key component for controlling IPD and other diseases in the state.

The findings support a long list of health reasons to construct clean water and sanitation infrastructure throughout Alaska, including the findings that people who live in homes without running water are 2-3 times more likely to be hospitalized with bacterial skin infections, and children are 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with respiratory infections.

Jay D. Wenger, MD, of the Arctic Investigations Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led the multi-organization study team. Additional CDC contributors include Tammy Zulz, MPH; Dana Bruden, MS; Rosalyn Singleton, MD, MPH; Michael G. Bruce, MD, MPH; Lisa Bulkow, MS; Debbie Parks, BS; Karen Rudolph, PhD; Debby Hurlburt, RN; and Thomas Hennessy, MD, MPH. Joseph Klejka, MD, represented the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, and Troy Ritter, REHS, MPH, represented ANTHC. The study is published in the March 2010 issue of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

About the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium is a non-profit tribal health organization created and managed by Alaska Native tribal health organizations on behalf of 229 Alaska Native Tribes. For more information, please visit www.anthc.org.



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